Dongri to Dubai By S Hussain Zaidi-A Review

Okay first thing first. To truly enjoy this book, whenever you’re picking up this book for the first time, hum the theme of Once Upon A Time In Mumbai and then you’ll be ready. Ready for something really awesome.

To an average Mumbaikar and to a certain extent, to an average Indian, the names Dawood Ibrahim, Haji Mastan, Chota Shakeel, Chota Rajan, Vardhan etc are fear-inspiring. Most of us are really not aware as to why this effect happens, and that is what this book deals with. In the bluntest of terms, it is the history text book which all schools should make compulsory.

Dongri to Dubai is a 378 paged book which simply demands to be read with precision.  Dealing with a delicate matter such as the history of Mumbai’s dreaded mafia is tough, but Zaidi’s experience and deep networks are clearly evident as he takes you through the rise of crime in Mumbai. Starting with the very first instance of accosting in Dongri, the book details the rise of the different gangs and syndicates in the six decade history of mafia in Mumbai.

The X-factor of this book is that the coherent, clear and concurrent narration along with hardcore facts, actual conversations and personal incidents (Hussain’s  work as a crime journalist yields rich dividends for the reader) help in establishing already suspected theories. For example, it’s a popular theory that Bollywood was and most probably controlled by the underworld. Exactly how this power is wielded has always been shrouded behind grim nods and clinks of wine glasses. Dongri to Dubai offers the eyes of an observant unbiased journalist to understand that.

Also, Zaidi has masterfully exploited the explicit need of “flow” in historic narratives. Most books dealing with such narrative themes fail in this regard, but not this one.  Each gang, each leader, each police officer i.e each involved member is established with his or her intent, purpose and motive.

Lastly, this may be a strictly personal observation, but the book is very informative. At least it was to me. I cannot speak for the entire crowd, but most people are painfully dumb when it comes to knowledge about the deep underbelly of Mumbai. Although it is deeply entrenched in our life, and finds nuances in our daily life, most Mumbaikar’s knowledge about the Mafia is left rotting in unknowing reverence and fear. For example we all know Dawood’s brother was assasinanted in Prabha Devi years ago by a rival mafia gang. But why? How? Most are unable to answer those questions. Dongri to Dubai equips you with that.

So this book goes without a saying, into the must-read category. I have always believed that the best way to learn something is by converting it into an example or story. This book weaves the non-fictional account of Mumbai (then Bombay)’s mafia into an extremely detailed narrative which reads just like fiction. So go and read this one!

Like: Informative, Chillingly accurate and detailed, Well laid out, Interestingly well linked theories

Dislike:  None, this book is perfect

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